One of the most daunting tasks for some leaders is to fire ‘good’ people. I’m really talking about leaders here, not managers. This is because a leader wants to bring out the best in people.
When an employee is a passionate, hardworker but you have to let him or her go, you do it with mixed feelings. You see, it’s easy to let the ‘bad’ people go – those who have bad attitudes towards work and towards other people, because these types of people are destructive to team morale and therefore, in the long run, to business results. But the ‘good’ people, they contribute in a positive way to team spirit and they try so hard, you want to see them grow.
However, you must be realistic. If there is another (open) position more suitable for the person, then you can strike a happy balance. But if not, you can’t keep a person in a chair who is just keeping it warm, when there is someone better qualified to fill that chair and bring the heat to bear positively on the business.
3 steps a good leader will take in such a situation:
- Spend the necessary time needed to give constructive and helpful feedback to the employee
- Try to find the employee a suitable role within the organisation and,
- If there are no suitable matches, let the person go but do it ‘with respect,’ whilst doing it firmly
‘With respect’ will have slightly different connotations in different cultures; it can mean, not doing it in front of others, so that the person won’t lose face. It can mean not using certain words to describe the employee’s shortcomings (such as ‘nonsensical’ which, in Ghana, for example, is considered by some, akin to a curse word). ‘Letting them go’ does not mean ‘giving them blows.’
Respect will be a key word in every language till the end of time. There’s a reason for it. Sometimes letting a person go is not only the best solution for the organisation, but for the person in question. Their destinies, their chances of success and even happiness may lie elsewhere. They just wouldn’t have explored it or known it otherwise. If fired with respect (ironic as that may sound), they will be less likely to be resentful and more likely to be grateful for that help in moving them towards the right direction for their future.